Let's go to Jupiter... and a BIG announcement!

Hello, friends!

Somehow I blinked and the year is half over. And so is my annual reading challenge. I set a goal of 70 books for this year, and while I don’t want to jinx it, I’m well ahead of my goal. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, feel free to follow along with me on GoodReads and The Story Graph.


World-building is not my favorite part of the writing process. When I draft, I tend to write the way I see the world, which overlooks all the delicious details that ground readers in the story. If I’ve walked down the same staircase ten times a day, every day, my whole life, I don’t think about how I’m sliding my hand down the polished maple bannister, or admire the fire engine red wrought iron balustrades, or the way the carpet feels like coarse sea grass underfoot. (Note to self: do not try to redesign a staircase. Ever.)

But, of course, your reader doesn’t know any of this. Which is why world-building is critical to writing an immersive story.

So, how do you know which details are critical to making your world immersive to your reader?

Simple: make it Jupiter.

Bear with me.

I don’t mean that you should literally set every story on Jupiter. What I mean, is approach your world-building as if you are setting your story on Jupiter. What color is the sky on that orangey-red gas giant? What does the wind smell like? What do buildings look like—what are they constructed out of? Are there actually buildings? How do people get around? How do they dress? Are there even people?

Consider all the elements that you would need to know in order to buy in to a story set on Jupiter, and swap them out for the details of your world. And then voila! You have an immersive, grounded setting for your characters to play in.


This month’s book recommendation comes from the before times: 2018. In this atmospheric thriller, a teenager returns home for the summer, a year after her boyfriend died under mysterious circumstances. She reunites with her high school friends, but when the night takes a sudden turn, they find themselves literally stuck in time. The only way out is to make an impossible—and deadly—decision.

Marisha Pessl’s NEVERWORLD WAKE has all the makings of a bingeworthy CW series: an unsolved death, rich prep school kids, and a creepy setting that would require a budget for fog machines.

I give it 5/5 prep-school blazers.


I’ll be presenting on two panels and teaching a workshop at the upcoming Willamette Writers Conference in my hometown of Portland, Oregon next month. I’m especially excited for the panel I’m doing with Cindy L. Otis, Cameron Lund, and Janae Marks on the link between Broadway Musicals and writing!

If you’re in the area or are looking for a great Hybrid writing conference, you might look into it! It runs August 4-6th with Master Classes starting earlier in the week.


In other news, I’ve decided to open up to new clients who are in search of a developmental editor. At this moment, I am primarily looking to work with writers of Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. If you or someone you know is interested, feel free to reach out ([email protected]) and I’d be happy to share more information about my rates, process, and timeline.

In the meantime, I’ve made my awesome Plot your Perfect Novel worksheet available for FREE to my subscribers. Just follow this link to download!


I have big news for fans of my EMBERS IN WAIT series: The next book from the world of Nordania is coming out! And it has a title!

This book can be read as a standalone, but for fans of Arden's story, there are plenty of Easter eggs.

This book follows Neve Ruiz, Arden’s roommate on the Peninsula who was not picked to attend the National Institute for Women, despite being led to believe she would.

Neve is overlooked. Underestimated. And determined to change her fate.

She is…


Coming November 17, 2023

Stay tuned for Pre-Order Information!

That’s it for now! I’ll be back next month with updates on UNCHOSEN, and possibly some birthday month fun! Until then…